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Coatesville loses late lead to Pennridge, ends season

PERKASIE — With the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world, the high school football season almost never happened.

Coatesville was grateful for the opportunity to compete, but that appreciation did little to match the disappointment that was felt after a heart-breaking loss, Friday night.

In the District 1-6A semifinals, No. 4 Coatesville lost a late lead to No. 1 Pennridge, and was eliminated, 36-33.

“That’s the last time I get to play high school football with all my brothers,” Coatesville senior Abdul-Sabur Stewart said. “That’s the last time a lot of these guys will touch the field. This is not the way we wanted it to end.”

Coatesville’s Lebron Bessick, left, consoles Dametrius Mcclain-Jackson after the loss to Pennridge. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

A back-and-forth contest between two undefeated teams made for a classic of a ball game, but the Red Raiders (4-1) will need some time to get over some of the mistakes that cost them a potential trip to their fourth straight district final.

Pennridge (6-0) scored on its first play from scrimmage, on a 64-yard pass from Bobby Croyle to Adam Mossbrook.  

Coatesville responded, thanks to a roughing the passer on a failed third-and-15, and then a muffed punt, five plays later. Boulder Eubanks found Stewart for a 14-yard score later on the drive, to even things up. 

Coatesville’s Abdul-Sabur Stewart returns a punt against Pennridge. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

It was the Red Raiders who then handed Pennridge another chance, the following drive, when they called a timeout to prevent a penalty for 12 men on the field, only to come out with 12 men on the field, after the time out. The penalty gave the Rams a first down and they scored on a 55-yard pass play the next play. 

Even though Harrison Susi to Damonte Reason tied things up on the next drive, those mental miscues and explosive plays haunted the Red Raiders all night.

“That’s on me,” Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said. “We knew (Pennridge) was a run-heavy team and they did a great job knowing if we were heavy against the run, they could take care of some things in the pass game. Hats off to them, they made some good plays there, and I have to do a better job.”

Coatesville’s Lebron Bessick finishes a long kickoff return in the second quarter. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Pennridge took a 17-14 lead early in the second, but it appeared to be only briefly. Lebron Bessick returned the ensuing kick for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a block in the back. That forced Coatesville back to its own three, and Susi was tackled in the end zone the next play for a safety. 

Then, after pinning the Rams at their own three, Villanova recruit, Shane Hartzell, took his first carry of the game and raced 97 yards to give Pennridge a 12-point lead.

“The kids played so hard, but we beat ourselves in the first half with mistakes and penalties,” Ortega said.

Pennridge’s Shane Hartzell finds yards against Coatesville. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Susi and Reason hooked up for a second score just before half, to make it 26-20.

The third quarter was more of the defensive battle many expected, but late in the session, the Raiders had some fortune fall their way. Francisco Hall tipped a screen pass by Croyle and Quadir Jacobs ended up with the ball. It was ruled an interception, and while the referees did not have the benefit of instant replay, the ball appeared to bounce off the turf first.

The Raiders capitalized when Tommy Ortega hauled in a 25-yard TD on a fourth-and-15, to give them their first lead, 27-26. 

Coatesville’s Quadir Jacobs was awarded an interception on the play, though the ball bounced off the turf. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Pennridge drove right back down the field and regained the lead with another field goal, but Bessick raced 90 yards on the kickoff to put Coatesville back in front, 33-29, with 5:39 to play.

The Rams had a third-and-18 at their own 41, and picked up 19 in the next two plays before Jack Ferguson snuck by Coatesville on a quick-hitter up the gut for a 40-yard TD, with 2:44 to go.

Jack Ferguson breaks free for a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove the game-winner for Pennridge. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“You think about what the kids have gone through this year, week to week, with covid and the election, and everything they have to deal with,” Matt Ortega said. “It’s a meat grinder, and hats off to the teams who get to play games like this with this type of adversity.”

Coatesville was out-gained 506-213, but was just 40 yards away from the winning points. Susi’s final three passes were incomplete, but the future is bright for a square with a young, talented core.

Coatesville’s Francisco Hall wraps up Pennridge’s Bobby Croyle for a loss. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Matt Ortega said Coatesville does not intend to schedule anymore games this fall.

“We know what we can do and now we know how good we can be,” Susi said. “The next two, three years we know what we’ve got and we know what we’ve gotta do and we’ll be back next year.”

Coatesville’s Harrison Susi finds Damonte Reason for a touchdown in the second quarter. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Pennridge 36, Coatesville 33

Coatesville 14 6 7 6-33

Pennridge  14 12 0 10-36

                                     Scoring

First Quarter

PR- Mossbrook pass from Croyle (Shire kick)

CV- Stewart 14 pass from Susi (Ashbee kick)

PR- Powles 55 pass from Croyle (Shire kick)

CV- Reason 17 pass from Susi (Ashbee kick)

Second Quarter

PR- Shire 29 FG

PR- Susi tackled in end zone, safety

PR- Hartzell 97 run (Shire kick)

CV- Reason 17 pass from Susi (kick failed)

Third Quarter

CV- Ortega 25 pass from Susi (Ashbee kick)

Fourth Quarter

PR- Shire 20 FG

CV- Bessick 90 kick return (conversion failed)
PR- Ferguson 40 run (Shire kick)

                                      Team Totals

                         CV              PR

First downs      10            14

Yards rushing  21-37    42-209

Yards passing  176            297

Total yards      213          506

Passing      14-25-0         9-21-2

Fumbles-lost    0-0           1-0

Punts-avg.      5-35.4     3-21

Penalties-yds  8-58        6-71

                                    Individual Statistics

Rushing: Coatesville — Mcclain-Jackson 13-51; Susi 8-(-14). Pennridge — Hartzell 8-123, TD; Ferguson 8-77, TD; Mossbrook 2-17; Shoemake 4-11; Powles 5-3; Dantzler 1-2; Landherr 3-(-8); Croyle 8-(-13); team 3-(-3).

Passing: Coatesville — Susi 13-24, 162 yards, 3 TDs; Eubanks 1-1, 14 yards, TD. Pennridge — Croyle 9-21, 297 yards, 2 TDs; 2 INTs

Receiving: Coatesville — Reason 6-81, 2 TDs; Molina 4-58; Ortega 1-25, TD; Stewart 2-8, TD: Bessick 1-8; Mcclain-Jackson 1-1. Pennridge — Powles 4-107, TD; Mossbrook 3-93, TD; Kacerik 1-64; Landherr 1-35.

Interceptions: Coatesville —Stewart, Jacobs.

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